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WMU wins chamber's environmental honors

April 1, 2008

KALAMAZOO--During a special community awards program March 19, the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized Western Michigan University for its commitment to supporting environmental and energy alternatives.

WMU was selected for the 2008 Environmental Award by the chamber's Environmental Advisory Committee in recognition of the University's efforts to implement sustainable design practices in its new buildings, its commitment to major storm water management improvements throughout its Kalamazoo campus and the University's development of a centralized energy usage control system. The award resulted from a nomination made by Chris Lester and Lynn Spurr of the West Michigan civil engineering firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber.

"We're very proud of this award and what it represents for our community and those who live and work on our campus," said Robert G. Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach, in describing the significance of the award. "The fact that WMU has numerous examples of its commitment to sustainability creates a unique opportunity to promote environmental stewardship with our students. We view this University as an environmental leader."

Specifically, the University was lauded for using guidelines developed by the U.S. Green Building Councils Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design--known as LEED principles--in construction of its Health and Human Services Building, Chemistry Building and Richmond Center for Visual Arts, as well as in its just completed renovation of Brown Hall. Centralized energy management for the entire Kalamazoo campus and the University's storm water management work and alliance with the Portage-Arcadia Creek Watershed Steering Committee also were cited.

"WMU has become a leader in the Kalamazoo area and the higher education community within Michigan in the area of sustainable design, construction and operation of their assets," Lester and Spurr wrote in their letter of nomination.

Citing a tendency to cut such "extras" during the budget process, the nominators lauded University staff for holding firm to sustainability as a critical component to its construction projects, pointing out that "WMU has dedicated staff time and project budgets to following these principles and not allowing the innovative components to be eliminated."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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